If you’re not already frequenting your local climbing gym (that’s a thing now!) and bragging about how you can send a 5.10, it’s only a matter of time. Climbing has seen a major surge in popularity recently—at the end of 2017, 43 new commercial climbing gyms opened in 23 states, according to data from Climbing Business Journal, the most facilities to ever open in a single year in America. And those numbers are only expected to grow as rock climbing’s Olympic debut at the 2020 Games in Tokyo approaches.
And while indoor climbing is fun, nothing compares to the incredible thrill of scaling real rocks in the great outdoors. You may not be the next Alex Honnold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your skills outside—as the number of climbers increases, more and more routes are being developed that cover the entirety of the Yosemite Decimal System, which rates the difficulty levels of climbs on a scale from 5.0 through 5.15.
And that means even beginners can climb anything from the mountains of Colorado to the cliffs of Thailand. If you’re ready to take your love of climbing out of the gym, pack your harness, get your hands on the best climbing gear available now, and head to one of these climbing meccas.